Hannah reviews the EVOC Neo – A Backpack With Protection.
I’m a fan of having a back pack on – I like having something between my back and the ground when I crash. Yes, I mean when I crash. I seem to have developed something of a habit of tucking and rolling as I fall – meaning having a backpack on gives a useful layer of protection. Better than just any old backpack, then, is one with a built in back protector. Which is what we have here.
It’s a fairly heavy pack – before you’ve loaded it up with anything, it’s got a heft to it (1.65kg/3.64lbs without a bladder). It does squash down nice and flat though, and you can use the helmet carrying straps to compress the pack. There’s a main internal section with simple pouch for a bladder (not included), and a small mesh zipper pocket for easy access to valuables.
Behind the front helmet stow area, there’s another pocket that opens out completely to reveal two opaque family flat plastic zipped pouches – handy for first aid materials – and a series of stretchy pockets, including two elasticated loops for holding a pump. There’s plenty of room here for all the tools you could need, plus maybe a snack bar or two.
Elsewhere, there’s fleece lined pocket on the top of the bag, which has a couple more stretchy pockets in it. Both sides of the pack have a stretchy mesh pocket big enough for a woolly hat, pair of gloves or small emergency shelter, The left hip strap has a tother stretchy pocket – such as you might shove wrappers into mid race – and the right has a small zipped pocket – for a multi tool perhaps? Since the pocket is on the outside of a padded section, you shouldn’t need to worry about landing on it.
These hip strap pockets are on the outside of what it quite a substantial waist strap – with starts off with two padded ears, then joins into a large Velcro-like waist band over which you click another buckled strap into place. The upper part of the bag is secured by a chest strap which joins the two padded shoulders straps together and stops them slipping sideways on your shoulders.
Lastly, there’s the back protector itself. Rubbery and with plenty of ventilation, it stands away from the back of the pack, allowing a good degree of airflow. It will also be replaced for free under Evoc’s crash replacement scheme, should you need it.
On The Trail
This pack stays where you put it. Stuff it full, or cinch it down as a back protector on an empty bag, it doesn’t wriggle around once you done up those straps. It’s comfortable, nothing digs in, and there’s no need to do everything up so tight that you’d trussed up like a Sunday roast. No doubt the rubbery back protector helps with that – it grips to you a little, rather than sliding around like a fabric back plate can. All that padding in the straps gives the pack a nice cushioned feel, comfortable to wear, and reassuring for crashing onto.
While it might feel heavy to pick up, once on the weight seems well distributed and I’ve managed to carry plenty of gubbins without feeling uncomfortable. It’s not a huge volume pack and the main compartment is quite slim, so on a big day out you might have to pack your tupperware, jacket and spare tube and extra banana with a little care.
The rain cover seemed effective enough, and I liked the fact it matched the colour scheme of the rest of the pack, however it did cover the the rear light I had on the light point on the back of the pack – something to bear in mind for wet, dark nights.
The secure fitting of the pack did have a downside – it’s a bit of a faff to get the pack off and round and your phone out for a quick photo, and there’s nowhere for keeping a phone that you can get to without taking the pack off. I’ve previously had a Deuter pack with a phone pocket in the side, up against the back protector – which I found a reassuring spot to have my phone, rather than in the top pocket that this pack offers. That fleece line pocket is right where I’m likely to commence my forward roll in the event of a crash, so it doesn’t feel like a great place to keep my phone.
While the straps for the helmet/chin bar pouch have the benefit of a) holding your helmet in place and b) compressing the pack, they do need to be unclipped if you want to access the pockets. Between this and the level of attachment to your back, this isn’t a great pack for if you’re always dipping in and out of your kit while on a ride. If you’re less of a faffer and just want to know that you’ve got your stuff if you need it, this is easy to wear and will fit the kit carrying needs of most rides.
I’ve had quite a few comments of ‘what are you carrying in that enormous pack?’, and I’m always surprised. It doesn’t feel huge on my back – in fact I barely notice it’s there as it’s so stable and the weight nicely distributed. Consequently, I currently wear it on every ride…so hopefully when I next crash, I’ll be able to hop straight back up and on my bike. Fingers crossed.
|Product:||Neo Protector 16L|
|Tested:||by Hannah for 2 months|
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I’m a fan of Evoc protector backpacks, but wow, this one pushes the price envelope somewhat!
Especially as the 2 linked adverts (wiggle and CRC) both show it as £385 on my phone
Yeeesh! Makes my £50 Evoc look even better!!!!!!!!!!!!! By a country mile price wise!